Are the Mavs a Top-Four Team in the West?
The Mavericks have won their last nine out of 10 games. Dallas is currently the second-ranked team in the Western Conference.
It has been quite some time since Mavs fans have had something to be this excited about. The team hasn’t made a postseason appearance in three years, with the sun setting on the Dirk Nowitzki era last year. In fact, the Mavericks haven’t won a playoff series since they defeated the Heat in the 2011 Finals.
The tides have perhaps turned for Dallas. A trade with Atlanta in the 2018 draft netted the club the incredible Luka Doncic. Eight months later, the Mavs added another piece by trading for Latvian power forward, Kristaps Porzingis. After an off-season of subtle, yet significant moves, Dallas appears to be on the path to success again.
The folks at FiveThirtyEight gave the Mavericks a 30 percent chance of securing a playoff berth before the start of the regular season. To add insult to injury, Dallas earned a meager one percent chance of making the NBA Finals. Their chances of winning said Finals were less than one percent.
Fast forward to December, and Dallas has won 15 of its first 21 games. Dallas hasn’t had such a hot start in years. It’s difficult to know for sure if Dallas can sustain such a high level of play.
The Mavericks currently own the league’s top offense rating, but might not have even fully unleashed the full potential of a recovering Porzingis. The big man still looks like a shell of his Knick form. He has been a monster on defense, however.
If Porzingis is able to play himself back into near All-Star level play, and Doncic continues to set the NBA ablaze, look out. This high-powered offense could get even better. The fine people over at FiveThirtyEight have already begun singing a different tune when it comes to Dallas. Here’s the latest projection.
Now, Dallas has a 97 percent chance of making the playoffs, and a 5 percent chance of coming out of a crowded Western Conference. The Mavs even have a respectable 2 percent chance of winning a title this season.
After defeating the Houston Rockets last week, reporters reminded Doncic that he has vaulted himself into the MVP conversation. He said this when asked of his goals for the season:
“For me, it’s making the playoffs. It’s a long season and it’s only been a month. We’ve just got to keep going. We are much more confident than last year. Everybody covers for each other and plays the right way, that’s it. We have amazing players on our team.”
Dallas looks better than anyone - myself included - could have predicted just a few weeks ago. There are still plenty of games left to be played, but the Dallas Mavericks are looking like a team to beat in the Western Conference.